Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Executive Order on Immigration

ATLANTA, GA (PR) 11/20/2014 - Today, the Obama administration announced that it would provide administrative relief to up to five million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, including parents of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents who have lived in the United States for five years or longer if they register, pass a background check, and pay taxes; and expands deferred action for undocumented youth who arrived before January 1, 2010.

The administration has also provided for new options for modernized visa processing, visas for foreign entrepreneurs, and STEM professionals. Individuals eligible for administrative relief will be eligible to stay in the United States without fear of deportation and for work authorization.

The administration’s announcement also focused its intent to shift enforcement resources to the border, and to focus enforcement on national security threats, serious convicted criminals, and recent border crossers. Notably, it will implement a new “Priority Enforcement Program” which replaces the former “Secure Communities” program, to remove those convicted of federal crimes.

Members of the Georgia Not1More Coalition responded to today’s announcement.

“This policy change is the result of years of organizing by undocumented people, who, against many odds and with great sacrifice, came forward to insist on an immigration policy that recognizes the humanity of our communities. Because of years of organizing by our families and communities against an inhumane immigration policy, the President has finally recognized his responsibility to act.” said Adelina Nicholls, Executive Director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia.

“We celebrate the President’s withdrawal of the dangerous Secure Communities program that undermined trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement, but oppose the further criminalization of those who simply seek a better life.”

“This policy change acknowledges the humanity of those who work to build our cities, sustain our families, and build our communities and their right to remain without fear of deportation,” said Monica Hernandez, Regional Coordinator of the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network.

“President Obama’s announcement marks a turning point away from years of failed policies that focus on profits and intolerance at the cost of immigrant communities,” said Xochitl Bervera, Co-Director of the Racial Justice Action Center.

“President Obama’s policy will protect an estimated 5 million immigrants in the United States, allowing them to live without fear of deportation and continue to build strong families and communities while contributing to our economy,” said Naomi Tsu, Senior Staff Attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“This policy will not only help immigrant communities to overcome barriers to economic opportunity, but will benefit everyone in our state and country as a whole,” said Neil Sardana, Organizing Director of Atlanta Jobs with Justice.

“This is a historic opportunity, and we will continue to push for policy changes that protect all of those in our communities from fear of deportation, including those excluded under today’s announcement, including many LGBTQ immigrants, those without children, and those who may have encountered the criminal justice system. Our communities cannot be divided on a false distinction between the deserving and undeserving,” said Paulina Helm-Hernandez, Co-Director of Southerners on New Ground.

“Everyone has the right to work with dignity, and live safely in our communities with the knowledge that we can return to our loved ones at the end of the day without the fear of deportation,” added Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director with the ACLU of Georgia.

GA Not1More is a Coalition made up of: Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights – GLAHR, Southerners On New Ground (SONG), US Human Rights Network, ACLU of Georgia, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Jobs with Justice, Georgia WAND, Racial Action Justice Center, Coalition of Leaders –Dalton, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), Southeastern Immigrant Rights Network (SEIRN), Women Watch Afrika, Project South, Metro Atlanta Socialists, Georgia Detention Watch, GA Moral Mondays and Atlanta American Friends Service Committee.

Georgia GOP Reaction

ATLANTA, GA (PR) - Following President Obama's announcement that he will use Executive Order to prevent the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants, Georgia Republicans issued the following statements:

"Tonight, President Obama once again proved that he's more concerned with advancing his own personal agenda than the will of the American people," said Georgia Republican Party Chairman John Padgett.  "Americans deserve a robust debate on immigration reform, not a swift edict from a ultra partisan, power hungry president."

"For the millions of fellow Americans of foreign descent just like us, becoming an American citizen was the capstone moment in their journey in search of freedom and opportunity," said businessman and Republican activist Baoky Vu.  "I am sure that they, like me, are unsure what to make of President Obama's executive action on immigration.  The spectrum of feelings range from being cheated to being ignored."

"Representative democracy is the cornerstone of America's freedom," said Leo Smith, Georgia Republican Party Minority Engagement Director.  "Americans want solutions to this country's immigration crisis made in Congress after robust debate and discourse, not by one person with the stroke of a pen."

"I am disappointed with President Obama's decision to bypass Congress on immigration in America through Executive Order," said Alex Gimenez of the Georgia Young Republicans. "It's up to the American people through Congress - not the Executive Branch acting alone - to decide how we reform the broken immigration system in place."

Speaker of the House De-Evolution

11/19/2014 - Speaker Boehner of 2013 may have flirted with passing immigration reform, but 2014 Boehner apparently would rather flirt with economic disaster by threatening to shut down the government and blowing another $24 billion hole the economy. The immigration reform debate could end today if Boehner wanted to by simply holding an up-or-down vote on the Senate bill passed with huge bipartisan support and that the President has been waiting to sign for over 500 days.

Even Republicans admit it would pass in the House.  Boehner knows video never forgets, so either 2013 Boehner was never serious about supporting reform, or 2014 Boehner has given up and handed the gavel over to anti-immigrant leader Steve King.

We know 120,000 jobs would be added every year to the U.S. economy under the Senate reform bill, so every day Boehner fails to act is a day that more Americans needlessly stay out of work and more undocumented workers are deported and callously separated from their families.  And he’s got no one to blame but himself if the President is left with no choice but to do what’s in the public interest on his own. The ball is entirely in Boehner’s court.

Jeremy J. Funk
Communications Director, Americans United for Change

Long Awaited and Overdue

MARIETTA, GA—A diverse coalition of  representatives from various organizations and communities, including the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), the Cobb Immigrant Alliance (CIA), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), are speaking out in united support of President Obama’s plan to issue a long awaited and overdue Executive Order to immediately halt the deportations of millions of law abiding, undocumented immigrants. 

Rich Pellegrino, of the Cobb Immigrant Alliance, stated that: 
“Any further  efforts by elected representatives of both parties to once again delay or obstruct this action, in order to wait for an unwilling and ineffective Congress to act, amounts to state-sponsored bullying of people and families who have earned their place at the American table of opportunity through their hard work and family values, just like our immigrant ancestors, and does not reflect the will of the American people , who, by an overwhelming majority, according to both  general polls and  recent election exit polls, favor this action.”

Regarding claims that President Obama will be overstepping his authority to issue such an executive order, Dr. Ben Williams, Cobb SCLC President,  says: “ Dozens of constitutional legal scholars across the nation have categorically stated the President will be acting within the limits of his authority and is actually following the precedent established by Presidents Reagan and Bush, who issued similar Executive Orders in order to prevent the break-up of immigrant families during their administrations..”

Teodoro Maus, co-founder of Georgia Latino Alliance of Human Rights, and former Mexican Consul  General during the Atlanta Olympics, reminds Georgians that:  “Georgia invited undocumented immigrants here and looked the other way for them to help us build the Olympic infrastructure,  our agricultural industry, and many other segments of our economy, raising the standard of living for all Georgians. They came, worked hard, grew families, and were law abiding—in fact, research indicates that American towns with large communities of immigrants have the lowest crime rates. Therefore they have earned their place at the American table and we encourage and applaud President Obama’s Executive Action in acknowledgement of their contributions. “

Pellegrino concludes:  “This coalition joins Americans from all backgrounds to welcome these immigrant families into our communities and will institute programs to assist them to fulfill the conditions to attain the legal status which we expect the President’s Executive Order to provide.”

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